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Latest on COVID-19 in MN: Winter surge receding rapidly

3 things to know:

  • 366 hospitalized; 44in ICU; hospitalizations falling quickly

  • Active case counts trending at lowest point since early August

  • Kittson becomes first Minnesota county to return to a low level of viral spread

Minnesota’s path out of the pandemic continues to brighten, with fewer than 400 COVID-19 patients in the hospital now and known, active cases trending near a seven-month low. The fall-winter surge appears to be mostly over.

The metrics haven’t yet hit their summer bottoms but are rapidly moving that way. The Minnesota Health Department on Tuesday reported fewer than 700 new cases per day over the last seven reporting days.

Two weeks ago, the trend was running at more than 2,000 cases daily.

Overall, there are about 4,700 active, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota. That’s down dramatically from mid-January, when active cases topped 67,000. The active count has stayed below 10,000 for 10 consecutive reporting days, the first time that’s happened since early August.

Active, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota

Hospitalizations are also falling rapidly — 366 people are currently in the hospital with COVID, with 44 needing an intensive care bed. ICU needs are the lowest since July. A month ago, state data showed 1,160 COVID hospitalizations with 179 ICU patients.

Graph showing COVID-19 hospitalizations by region

Hospitals across the state had been stretched to the breaking point at the start of the year as COVID cases and other rising health care needs multiplied.

Health officials continue to plead for vigilance against the disease. In late June, Minnesota appeared to be through the worst of the pandemic.

Still, the most recent map from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows significant improvement, with many Minnesota counties stepping back from high viral transmission to “substantial.”

Six are down to moderate levels. Kittson, in far northwestern Minnesota, is now the first county to return to a low level of virus transmission.

Hennepin and Ramsey counties are averaging fewer than 10 new cases per 100,000 people over the past week. Twin Cities wastewater data published Friday showed COVID levels comparable to early July, close to Minnesota’s best stretch of the pandemic in late June 2021.

New COVID-19 cases per capita by age

Local governments continue to lift indoor masking restrictions. On Friday, Hennepin County said visitors to most of its county buildings will no longer be required to wear a mask as of Monday. Masking may still be required in correctional and health care settings.

The state’s positive test rate has been moving steadily downward, with sample data showing positivity falling below 4 percent, significantly below the 5 percent threshold state health officials find concerning.

Percent of COVID-19 tests to come back positive

Twenty newly reported deaths put the state’s death toll at 12,221. Deaths typically follow a surge in cases and hospitalizations. In past COVID-19 waves, it’s been the last of the key metrics to improve. Death rates have fallen in recent weeks.

New COVID-19 related deaths reported in Minnesota each day

Vaccinations have put Minnesota in a better position now than during its fall 2020 and spring 2021 spikes: 78 percent of state residents age 12 and older have received at least one vaccination shot, with 74 percent now completely vaccinated.

Officials say roughly 70 percent of Minnesota’s total population is now vaccinated with at least one shot, with about two-thirds completely vaccinated.

Graph showing total COVID-19 vaccinations by age

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